Originally created 08/15/04

Pro football roundup



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Jon Gruden will never forget peering out the window in his hotel room and getting a close-up view of Hurricane Charley.

"When you see trees getting picked up and thrown out of the ground, it's not something to laugh about," the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coach said Saturday.

"It was wild, it was unbelievable. The force that was displayed last night was something I hadn't seen. It's amazing that the damages weren't as bad here as what they might have been."

The team trains at Disney's Wide World of Sports just outside Orlando and left the practice field Friday thinking they were safely out of the path of Charley, which was projected to hit the Tampa Bay area, about 75 miles away.

The Cincinnati Bengals, who arrived in Orlando on Thursday with plans to wait out the storm before busing to Tampa for a preseason game Saturday night, also found themselves in the middle of the storm when the hurricane suddenly shifted course, slammed ashore on Florida's Gulf Coast and raced up the middle of the state.

The exhibition opener between the Bengals and Buccaneers was rescheduled for Monday night following its postponement.

It will now be played at Raymond James Stadium, starting at 7:30 p.m., the NFL said Saturday.

Hurricane Charley has killed at least 15 people in Florida and flattened oceanfront homes, leaving thousands homeless before roaring north. It is the strongest storm to strike Florida in a dozen years.

MANNING DEBUTS: In East Rutherford, N.J., the much-anticipated debut of Eli Manning was upstaged by another once highly regarded New York Giants first-round draft pick and a budding television star.

Ron Dayne showed flashes of his Heisman Trophy days, scoring on runs of 29 and 67 yards, and Jesse Palmer threw a game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass with 6:32 to play, rallying the Giants to a 34-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night.

"It felt good to get out and be able to run and score a touchdown," said Dayne, who gained 118 yards on 11 carries in his first action since last preseason.

"That was the main thing, I wanted to score a touchdown and help the team win," added Dayne, who was inactive for all 16 games last season under Jim Fassel.

The victory in Tom Coughlin's preseason debut as coach wasn't pretty.

Trent Green and the Chiefs gained 311 first-half yards and scored on four of five possessions in shredding the Giants' rebuilding defense. If they'd stayed in, the game would not have been close.

"I liked the way we hung in there," said Coughlin. "We were in a blitzkrieg in the first half, and we hung in there."

Manning, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft by San Diego and then traded to the Giants, played about two quarters with mostly a backup crew. He was 7-of-13 for 91 yards after getting a big ovation when he took over for Kurt Warner (3-of-7 for 49 yards) in the second quarter.